Women’s Business Summit #WBS15


I love a lot of things.

I love Jesus.

I love my awesome family.

I love my job.

And, I love helping other women succeed. I honestly think that there is a place at the table for every woman to succeed in business.

Some will prefer to be entrepreneurial, some want to work for or run a large corporation. Some, like me, find their niche in the non-profit sector. Some excel as CEO of their household.

I’m excited to be presenting “The Power of Story” and “To Tweet or Not to Tweet” at the 2015 Women’s Business Summit!

I hope you can join me for this outstanding personal and professional development opportunity –

November 8-9, Bismarck!

The Women’s Business Summit includes the always popular Breakfast with Entrepreneurs Panel,
fabulous keynote speaker Melissa West, 18 amazing breakout sessions (including mine!), 1-on-1
business advising, and an opening night Wine, Women & Chocolate reception for great networking!

This is your chance to invest in yourself and join the movement of women across our state that are
stepping up to do MORE! More for themselves, more for their businesses, more for their families
and communities. By pulling women together from across North Dakota and the region this Summit creates a diverse network for those who want to grow both personally and professionally.

By leveraging women’s talents and resources we strengthen the individual as well as the collective
and I encourage you to join me for this unique opportunity!

Pre-registration is required. For more information visit http://ndwomensbusinesssummit.com
Hope to see you there!

Being a Mom is Not for the Weak


It has been one of those weeks.

You know the weeks. . .the Alexander kind of weeks.

I had just come off of a first half week of school, feeling victorious. I was pretty much feeling like *that* mom. You know the mom, the one who has it all together. The one who drops her kids off at school on time, with make up on and hair done  and fresh coffee in the travel mug.

By the end of this past week I have descended into the realm of *crabby mom*.

I’ve been flying solo a bit this week with the hubs out of town, which is generally not a problem–my kids are NOT babies and I still have a second driver in the house (even if he sleeps until noon). I really work hard to not complain too much when I am flying solo–for a few reasons. First, I travel for work, and I often force the hubs to fly solo on the weekends–which as a pastor are especially busy and crazy. Also, the hubs rarely wants to get away for something fun, so when he does, I send him off with my blessing. He is a super great guy, and the least I owe him is a getaway now and again. Also, I don’t complain because I know that many parents fly solo all the time.

It is just that when I am solo parenting I feel like I have to adult all day long. And, honeslty, I am a 12 year-old trapped in an adult body. Adulting is hard. ya’ll.

So, here is is glimpse of my week:

  • Slept late on a school day. I got the kids to school on time, but I forgot to feed the twins breakfast.
  • I ran out of coffee.
  • It is Saturday and I am still washing dirty clothes from over a week ago.
  • I’m pretty sure my fridge died. Right after the hubs and I had the “no large purchases for a while” discussion.
  • I had a work project that I needed to finish on Friday, but I forgot about it until I was on the way home Friday night.
  • My house looks like “there appears to have been a struggle”.
  • I’m crabby.

But, through it all, some truths remain.

  • My family still loves me–messy house, dirty laundry, forgetten breakfast and all.
  • A broken fridge is an inconvenience and an expense, but we do have the means to buy a new one–even if we would rather spend that money elsewhere.
  • I have an awesome teen who spent 3 hours at church this afternoon baking cinnamon rolls for fellowship time at church tomorrow.
  • Jesus died for my sins.
  • Tomorrow I will be fed with God’s Word and Christ’s body and blood, and I will leave refreshed and renewed.
  • I can sleep in on Monday!
  • I restocked the coffee.

So there you go. Just a little glimpse of real life.

Cooking For 8: Frugal School Lunches

Frugal Lunchbox

I’m writing this on the first day of school here. At home, on my lunch break, in the quiet. (What? Not every working mom goes home to experience just a bit of that quiet house feeling? Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also spilled coffee on my white blouse, not once, but twice.)

I was planning on my next post in this series to be on making our own mixes, and I still plan on that, but I think school lunches are more timely.

My high school and middle school boys insist on school hot lunches. They will complain about them endlessly, but it is also so not cool to pack your own lunch. . .so.

However, my girls in kindergarten are blessed with an excellent school cook. But, in their minds, it is much cooler to pack a lunchbox. The payoff is that packing a lunch is cheaper. . .much cheaper.

The problem with packing lunch is that is just takes so much more time.  Four years ago, I wrote about how I streamlined lunchtime preparation. I am going to revisit those tips.

Over the years I have picked up even more helpful and frugal ideas:

  • My kids love those little snack size containers of Jello and pudding. I’m not crazy about the price, or the waste, or what exactly they have to do to make jello or pudding shelf stable. So I purchased some of these reusable containers and I make jello or pudding once or twice a week. It is much cheaper and I can do things like add fruit to the jello. Yeah, not exactly health food, but at 3 ounces at a time, I’m not worried .
  • My kids always think they want those Lunchable meals. But then they get them and realize that they do not like processed cheese. So, instead of sandwiches, I will often slice up some real cheese and set it in a container with some deli meat and then tuck in a bag of crackers. A LOT cheaper, and you can control the serving sizes.
  • It is easy to toss fruits and vegetables into a lunch box if they are prepped ahead of time. I try and set aside some time on Sunday afternoon to peel and slice a pound or two of carrots, a bunch of celery and a head of cauliflower. Then package these into zip top bags and they are ready to grab and go.
  • I also take time to portion grapes, clean and slice strawberries and slice apples (dipping them in lemon juice keeps them fresh. Also, tart apples like Granny Smith hold up well over time.
  • I’m going to try making these Homemade “Uncrustables” this weekend. The girls are in a peanut free school (which makes planning a little tougher), but I sprung for a jar of Sunbutter, which I hope passes muster with my PBJ loving girls!
  • I like to keep hard boiled eggs on hand (mostly because they are a favorite to-go breakfast for me.)
  • Most store bought granola bars are out (See Peanut free School above), but I am going to try my hand at these nut-free “Lara Bars”.
  • I will sometimes buy prepackaged string cheese to toss in lunches, but mostly I buy big chunks of cheese and cut it up myself.

It is fun to get your kids involved in the process, get ideas from them about what foods they would like to see in their lunches and see how you can adapt. One of the twins would eat chilli every day if she could. I may just make a big pot at the beginning of the week and pack her a themos-ful every day!


Chime in! I’d love to hear your fast and frugal lunchbox ideas!


Cooking for 8: Clean Out the Fridge Soup Recipe

Welcome back to our new Wednesday feature: Cooking for Eight. If you want to see what this series is about, check out this post right here.

Soup photo

Last week I visited with you all briefly about snacks in my budget kitchen. Today I am going to talk about a dinner that you can make if you forgot to plan dinner (we have all been there, right?)

On of the toughest parts about me going back to work was adapting to a new routine for getting dinner cooked. I am a huge proponent of the family dinner. I realize that we may not all be able to gather for dinner, but I try to make sure that there is a healthy, hearty meal on the table every night for those who are home.

I generally enjoy menu planning and I have tweaked the eMeals.com system to work for our family. But, sometimes, our meal planning falls off the rails. For example, this past weekend I was out of town with a friend. I generally meal plan and shop on Saturday or Sunday, so I skipped it. I ran to the store to pick up milk and a few staples on Sunday night, but I decided we would  eat out of our pantry and freezer for a week (this is a good practice–periodically).

Last night I arrived home from work to some hungry kids. With the dreaded question: “What is for dinner?”. My answer was,  “soup”!

This particular recipe has really evolved over the years. I love that I almost always have the basic ingredients on hand, and it is nice that it comes together in less than 30 minutes. Most everyone in the family loves it, except an unnamed child who hates everything.

This recipe is also a Two-For-One recipe, as the cheese sauce is the same exact cheese sauce that I use for my homemade mac and cheese. So, if you don’t happen to have a lot of stuff to clean out of your fridge, you can come up with some hearty mac and cheese in a snap!

Cheese sauce

I can’t think of anything this would not taste good on, can you?

You also may want to come up with a new name for the soup–kids generally balk at something called “Clean Out the Fridge”–this is kind of my secret, working title. My version last night was named Bacon Cheeseburger Soup, because who can resist?

Clean Out the Fridge Soup:

  1. Chop up an onion–or half an onion–or some green onions, whatever you have that is onion-like sitting around.
  2. Chop up some celery. You know you have some limp celery ribs sitting in the fridge and the kids won’t eat it because it is not super crisp–chop it up, it works in soup! *
  3. Chop up some carrots. Are there any other leftover veggies hiding out in your fridge? Pull them out and chop them up!
  4. Toss all of the chopped veggies in a heavy bottomed soup pot with a pat of butter or splash of oil. Cook them up a bit until the onions are translucent.
  5. Choose a meat. This week I had a pound of ground beef that I found in the freezer, so I browned it up with the vegetables. Leftover pot roast is great, deli ham works great. Shredded chicken. Use whatever you have on hand. Add it to the vegetables.
  6. Now, peek in your pantry. My guess is you have a few kind of sad looking potatoes in there. I dice up about a pound, skin and all and toss them into the pot. No potatoes? Do you have some leftover rice or noodles? They will work!
  7. Now, add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables. . .usually about two or three cups. Toss in some seasonings (I have a homemade ranch mix that I like to toss in–more on that next week). Bring the whole thing up to a rolling boil.
  8. Now, take out a 3 quart saucepan and toss 1/4 cup of butter in the bottom. If you use margarine I won’t tell, but butter tastes better! When that is all melty, toss in 1/4 cup flour and whisk it around. I then add 2 cups of milk to the flour and butter. . .slowly, with a whisk. I clean out my fridge with this too. I always seem to have a carton of heavy cream with two tablespoons left in, and the last bit if half and half from my coffee stash. And yes, that milk jug with a half cup of milk left that no one wants to seem to drink. Toss it in! Bring the mixture to a slow boil and when it thickens, remove it from the heat.
  9. Now, dig in your fridge for cheese. If you are like me, you have several bags of shredded cheese with just a little bit left, and random little hunks of cheese. I come up with about two cups, sometimes more. Add it to your cream sauce and whisk it until it is smooth. At this point I also hunt for tail ends of cream cheese. (why does NO one want to finish anything in my house???).
  10. Next, check the state of the vegetables in your soup pot. If they are nice and tender, you can go ahead and slowly stir the cheese sauce into the soup. (At this point do not let the mixture come to a boil or the cheese sauce may curdle).
  11. I also always have a few slices of bacon around, now that my friend Vanessa taught me how to stretch a pack of bacon! I chopped up a few slices and browned them up as the cheese sauce was coming together. These made great toppers for the soup.

This soup is absolutely hearty and delicious, and is honestly never the same soup twice. However, if you are like me, you are so proud of pulling off and unplanned meal without an emergency trip to the grocery store (we know how expensive those last-minute trips can be!)

Chime in! Do you have a great last minute meal idea? Share it in the comments!


*Note: if you want celery to stay crisp in the fridge for WEEKS, take it out of the plastic bag it came in when you get home from the store and wrap it in aluminum foil. I’m not sure why it works, but it does!


It has been a good summer. yes, we have 20 or so days left, but this is the point where I begin to reflect.

We began the summer with a family wedding in Florida. It was lovely and I had so much fun catching up with Matt’s siblings and significant others. The kids had a blast and were able to see many new things. I don’t have a whole lot of vacation time built up and summer is a super busy time for me at work, so I flew back home after the wedding and worked, while Matt and the kids had an #epicroadtrip. I was sorry to have missed seeing the family and friends he caught up with but I was not sorry to miss out on all of the time in the car!

Matt and the boys spent a week at scout camp, leaving the girls and I with a fun little staycation. We rode rides at our little amusement park in town, we ate treats, we had cereal for dinner, and we enjoyed all kinds of goodies at the Bismarket.

I don’t regret not getting away from North Dakota more this summer. North Dakota summers are GORGEOUS! I daresay they are #Legendary!Warm days, cool evenings and late, late, sunsets make for enjoyable evenings after work. There is always something to do.

However, armchair traveler that I am, I have enjoyed watching other people’s vacations and I have decided to put a few on my bucket list!
Shockingly, our family has yet to visit South Dakota! I have had it on my short list for a while, but when I saw some friends had visited The Flintstones Bedrock City in Custer, SD. . .my decision has been cemented! What fun Americana!  We want to visit Mt. Rushmore, of course, but there is so much more to do! We will have to plan a long weekend next summer to take it all in!

Flintstone Park

A friend enjoyed a Scandinavian cruise much like this one a few years ago. I think this would perfectly combine my love of the show, Love Boat, and my love for our family’s Danish heritage!


Photo credit: Gary Light CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

But for now, I’m pretty happy to be right here in my beloved North Dakota.

note: I was sent this super cute Succulent planter from Pro-Flowers as an inspiration for this post.

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